Historic Hull – Photos from the Historic England Archive

historic hull men on fishing boat history

Hull is one of England’s most fascinating cities. Photos from the Historic England Archive, the nation’s record of 12 million photographs, show the city as it once was – and how it is now: a resurgent, modern place with some stunning new architecture, state-of-the-art museums, galleries, and a world-leading university and medical school – consistent with its current status as UK City of Culture for 2017.

Drawings and publications, ranging from the 1850s and the earliest days of photography up to the present day provide a nostalgic look at Kingston upon Hull’s past and highlight the special character of some of its most important historic sites.

Taken from Paul Chrystal’s book, Historic England: Hull, below we feature some of Hull’s landmark buildings and locations through the decades…

The Guildhall

historic hull The Guildhall

The Guildhall, on Alfred Gelder Street, around 1910. The building emerged from the Town Hall and opened in 1866 at the north end of Lowgate. Soon after Hull was granted city status in 1897 a larger building was needed, so land to the west of the Town Hall was acquired for the present Guildhall, which opened with law courts, a council chamber and offices in 1907. The Town Hall was demolished in 1912 and the east end of the Guildhall building was built between 1913 and 1916 in the Renaissance style.

The Guildhall has treasures that include fine art, sculpture, furniture, the civic insignia, and silver. It boasts miles of oak and walnut panelling, marble floors and Hull’s old courts and cells. The Hull Tapestry is also in the Guildhall. The cupola from the ornate 135-foot tower on the Town Hall was recycled to beautify the west end of Pearson Park. The statuary on the Guildhall is quite stunning: the photo shows Maritime Prowess with the Greek goddess Aphrodite rising from the waves between two horses.

Springhead Pumping Station, Willerby

historic hull Springhead Pumping Station, Willerby

This started life as a pumping station in 1863 and then became a waterworks museum. In 2017 a complete refurbishment was completed. It is a listed building and has been described thus: ‘This building and engine are representative of C19 municipal water works, and illustrate how … an architecture founded in objective functionalism … could be used to create a polite and elegant building whose purpose was nevertheless unmistakeable.’

James Reckitt Library

historic hull James Reckitt Library.

James Reckitt Library in Holderness Road opened in 1889 next to the East Hull Baths. It was Hull’s first free library and was established by James Reckitt with more than 8,000 books. The library was donated to the borough of Hull in 1892 when the city adopted the Public Libraries Act. The library closed in 2006. Reckitt’s other acts of philanthropy include the Garden Village (1908). This is a 600-home model village built for his workers in Hull, which was run as a non-profit organisation during his lifetime. He also financed a hospital in Withernsea, contributed to the Sailors’ Orphan Homes, and actively promoted the establishment of the Hull Royal Infirmary. He set up the Sir James Reckitt Charity in 1921, which supports charitable and Quaker organisations.

Charterhouse, Charterhouse Lane, Hull

historic hull Charterhouse, Charterhouse Lane

Charterhouse (known simply as ‘the Charterhouse’) was a Carthusian monastery and almshouse that survived the Dissolution of the Monasteries; however, the priory was destroyed in 1538. The hospital was destroyed before the first siege of Hull during the English Civil War to prevent it being used by besieging forces. A replacement was built in 1645, which was replaced again in 1780. The buildings function as an almshouse with an attached chapel. In the 1860s the hospital cared for seventy pensioners, each with an allowance of 6s per week.

Beverley Road Baths, 2006

historic hull Beverley Road Baths, 2006

On the left is an alcove with decorative moulding, and there is also a brass plaque featuring the head of John Shaw, chairman of the Baths Committee. The baths opened in May 1905 and the Victorian Society describes them as: ‘an impressive monument to turn-of-the-century civic pride. A central square tower topped by an octagonal cupola marks out the entrance, and another smaller cupola with a copper dome turns the corner into Epworth Street. To the right, the gabled end of the pool hall, decorated with a Palladian window. This is a baths complex which wants to be noticed!’

Paragon Station, Ferensway, 1975

historic hull Paragon Station, Ferensway, 1975

Queen Victoria stayed in the Station Hotel in 1854. The station’s name, Paragon, comes from the nearby Paragon Street, which was itself built around 1802. However, the name itself is earlier still: the Paragon Hotel public house (now the ‘Hull Cheese’) gave its name to the street, and dates back to 1700. The station was opened as ‘Hull Paragon Street’ on 8 May 1848. In the early 1900s the North Eastern Railway (NER) expanded the train shed and station, erecting the five-arched platform roof we see today.

On 5 March 1916, during the First World War, a Zeppelin raid killed seventeen people when a bomb blast blew out the glass in the station roof. A bus station was built next door in the mid-1930s. The rail station took direct hits on the night of 7 May 1941 during the Blitz; the signal box was badly damaged when a parachute mine exploded nearby and the small railway museum was destroyed by fire. Paragon Interchange opened in September 2007, integrating the city’s railway and bus termini.

Humber Dock

historic hull Humber Dock

Looking north-east across the dock towards the Spurn Lightship, with Holy Trinity Church beyond. The Town Docks were extended in 1846 with the construction of the Railway Dock, which was monopolised by the Wilson Line – then Hull’s biggest steamship company. The Victoria Dock was opened in 1850 with timber as its main commodity, imported largely from the Baltic.

The Albert Dock opened in 1869 for general cargo, also becoming home to the North Sea fishing fleet, while in 1883 St Andrew’s Dock, originally intended for the coal trade, absorbed the increase in fishing with an extension added in 1897. Alexandra Dock opened in 1885 and a riverside quay was established in 1907, south of the Albert Dock, so that ships with perishable cargoes could be unloaded promptly. The Spurn Lightship can be seen below, moored in the marina beside Castle Street and Princess Quay shopping centre.

Hull Fish Quay

historic hull Hull Fish Quay

Hull Fish Quay was implicated in an international incident involving Hull trawlers and the Russian Baltic fleet on 21 October 1904 – this became known as the Dogger Bank Incident, or the Russian Outrage. Mistaking Hull trawlers for enemy Japanese boats, Russian warships opened fire on the fishermen, killing a Hull skipper and a third hand, and seriously wounding seven others. The trawler Crane was sunk and the hospital mission ship Joseph and Sarah Miles went to assist. Returning to St Andrew’s Dock, the vessels showed clear evidence of the damage caused – protests to the Russian government went unheeded. A relief fund was set up and on 30 August 1906 a fine memorial was unveiled outside St Barnabas’s Church in Hessle Road.

Hull’s Docks

historic hull Hull's Docks

The swing bridge and warehouse No. 8 at Prince’s Dock in 1972. Opened in 1829 as Junction Dock, it was later renamed Prince’s Dock in honour of Prince Albert and the royal visit in 1854. The dock was open for 139 years, closing for shipping in 1968. It was later redeveloped and opened as Princes Quay shopping centre in 1991. The North Eastern Railway built the No. 1 Oil Jetty at Salt End in 1914 (Salt End Oil Jetties), a mile east of King George Dock.

William Wright Dock opened in May 1873, named after the chairman of the Hull Dock Company. The Albert and William Wright docks were amalgamated in 1910. In the late 1950s the Albert Dock was redeveloped. In 1972 the docks were closed to commercial traffic but, due to the fluctuating needs of the fishing industry, they were refurbished, and in November 1975 the docks were again working for the fishing industry.

High Street

historic hull High Street

This image looks north-east along High Street from outside Ye Olde Black Boy pub. An advertising leaflet printed for Warwick & Co. (Hull) Ltd between 1923 and 1925 tells us: This house in bygone days was a regular meeting house for merchants and others. Messrs. Warwick & Ward (Hull) Ltd., wish to intimate to those concerned, that facilities for meeting there still exist. The bar downstairs retains its old characteristics, and one can sit there at ease in cheerful comfort surrounded by highly polished hogsheads and glistening bottles. Two rooms upstairs are available for small business meetings.

The rooms are fully equipped for these purposes, and whilst they are part of the old inn, they have a separate entrance, and it is not necessary to pass through the bar to gain admittance to them. Situated in the heart of Hull’s business community, they form an ideal place of meeting. Anyone desirous of arranging small meetings is invited to make application to the Manager for the use of these rooms. Liquid refreshments can be served in them during licensed hours.

historic hull coverhistoric hull cover 2‘Historic England: Hull’ by Paul Chrystal is published by Amberley Publishing, £14.99


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